Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Balanced Life

Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
Luke 2: 41 - 52

A few weeks ago, John and I met with a trusted confidante to talk about a rough patch.  Our duplex project has stretched out so long and far that I think we are both feeling worn out and anxious.   The term "balanced life" came up several times during that conversation.  

Truthfully, I think John is basically geared towards all work and I am geared towards all play.   If John is not productive, working on something, every waking hour then he feels that he has wasted time and is lazy.   If I don't get to incorporate some play- fun with little man or my own boys, lunch out with a friend, being creative, or goofing off watching an episode of a favorite TV show- in most 24 hour periods, then I start to feel like life is drudgery.   I guess in a weird way, there is balance in our marriage, except there isn't.  

In the twenty-four hours after that conversation with the confidante, I knew that to seek a "balanced life" was important.  I knew those words were significant and I needed to search out what they mean in my life.   I even made a facebook post about it and asked friends to share what a balanced life meant to them.   Before that post however, I did a Google search of  balanced life.  I shared on that facebook post that of course I had done the Google search because that is what I do when I have a question.

In the next twenty-four or so hours after making that  request for friends' ideas, I began to see the fault in my thinking.   First I went to the almighty search engine, then I went to friends.   I was convicted that my first quest should have been made to God..  To me, there is no balanced life if my relationship with my Creator is not at the center of my life.  And upon thinking that thought, Luke 2: 52 came to my mind.  

 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

That is when I saw that Jesus lived out, even as a boy growing into manhood, a balanced life.  He grew intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially.  And so I had a picture in my mind of what my life should look like in order to follow the pattern set by Jesus.  

In my google search, I had found all sorts of pretty images of pie charts with different categories such as spiritual, physical, intellectual, work, financial, family, social, etc, etc, with all the "slices" of pie being equal.  I could not find the chart I had in my mind so I made my own chart of sorts with a twist.  I am not an artist and I am not tech savvy so I did the best I could which is substandard to most in the blogging world.  But it is working for me.  

I used the chart above as a guide in making my own which I (very roughly) drew into my newly created balanced life journalMy first step was to remove "a great life" from the center circle.  I then made it the largest circle and labeled it "SPIRITUAL," believing firmly that my relationship with God must be at the center of my life and all other areas of life.  It is the firm foundation.  I then took ideas and words that came into my mind from exploring some of the other pie charts I had viewed  and wrote a synopsis of what I want my spiritual journey to include and what it means to me.  

Then I proceeded to fill in the other circles with different categories - physical, emotional, family, work/financial, social, and intellectual.  I followed the same procedure with those categories, writing a synopsis, putting ideas that I found in my search and ideas that popped into my head as I began my balanced life journal and journey.

In that first week I also got on Pinterest and began to search out pretty illustrations for my thoughts.   Having become proficient at using the copy/paste function, my journal has taken on quite a bit of prettiness!   And I am also building a nice little balanced life Pinterest board.  

Another quote I found that I think is also a nice summary of what it all means to me is this one:

 Within a week of all this new activity and exploration, I had the opportunity to request a phone session with a life coach.  This fellow is special to me as I've known him since he was a boy.  Yes, it felt strange to request a consultation with my oldest kids' former babysitter.  But what a wonderful opportunity and experience it was!  He was a very great help to me.   I must share one piece of advice from him because it is crucial to seeking a balanced life.   I have to remind myself daily to heed his recommendation to choose only one or two areas to work on and give myself grace in the other areas I want to also pursue; otherwise, I will become overwhelmed and give up!  

If you are suffering burn out, I encourage you to explore what a balanced life  looks like to you and to begin to seek it.  One thing I have noticed is that if I don't work on that journal then I feel at loose ends.  The writing, cutting/pasting, making it my own is part of the therapy and stress relief;  imagining the life I want to live, and dwelling on those ideas is an important weekly activity.  And of course, time in Bible study and with God, praying and meditation on His words, is also crucial!  I am seeking to live with joy, peace, and contentment as I pass through this world into the next.

Pressing on in Him,

Lisa Ann

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